Forget it, they’re rolling. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won five of their last six games and have been increasingly convincing. They outshot and outchanced each of their last handful of opponents, and they only got better at the NHL trade deadline with the Rickard Rakell acquisition. The Penguins (39-16-9) visit the Buffalo Sabres (22-33-8).
The game will be on TNT. Puck drop just after (or well after) 7:30 p.m.
Playoff hopes are a distant memory for Buffalo, but the Penguins are just beginning to round into form, getting back to their simple game with heavy puck pressure in all three zones.
On Tuesday night, the Penguins overwhelmed the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-1 at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins bombarded Columbus with scoring chances and netted four in the second period. Before Columbus could catch its figurative breath, the game was over.
Jake Guentzel crossed the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career. Sidney Crosby had three assists, and 10 Penguins had points. Newly acquired Rickard Rakell made his Penguins debut, and head coach Mike Sullivan eased him into the lineup with Jeff Carter on the third line. However, Sullivan indicated that the arrangement wouldn’t last as Rakell will eventually move up the lineup.
“I don’t see him being a left-wing with Carter in the big picture. I think under the circumstances, he’s coming in with very little sleep, coming across the country, has very limited knowledge of how we’re trying to play–I think we’re trying to put players in positions to be successful. If we had put him in the top six tonight would have been a real tough challenge and maybe an unfair challenge for any player for that matter,” said Sullivan.
Rickard Rakell will get his second game in two nights. We’ll cut him some slack and not worry too much about his game for a while. It’s a big adjustment in a small timeframe with not much practice time on the horizon.
The trickle-down effect puts Radim Zohorna on the fourth line, which created a goal and plenty of scoring chances on Tuesday. That’s a “big” step in the right direction, too.
Buffalo hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. They’re 4-1-0 in their last five games. They’re also a solid 18-9-4 when scoring first.
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Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*The Penguins have outscored opponents 82-60 in the third period, but Buffalo has been outscored 70-52.
*Buffalo’s power play is 21st (18.7%), and the PK is 21st (76.5%).
*The Penguins PP is steady at 20.3% (16th), and the PK remains elite (86.2%, 2nd).
*Tage Thompson has four points (2+2) in his last four games.
*In his last 15 home games, Rasmus Dahlin has recorded 15 points (2-13-15).
*Jeff Skinner has recorded 24 goals this season, marking the eighth 20-goal season of his 12-year NHL career.
*The Penguins have points in 27 of the last 31 games against Buffalo (24-4-3) dating back to Oct. 5, 2013.
*The Penguins have points in 15 of their last 16 visits to Buffalo (13-1-2) dating back to March 30, 2012.
How to Watch:
TV: TNT; Radio: 105.9 The X